Google invests US$280m to convert homes to solar energy

14 Jun 2011

Technology giant Google is to invest US$280m in a novel new fund that will help homeowners across the US to lease solar energy panels and hopefully ignite a clean-energy revolution.

Rick Needham, director of green business operations, explained that the investment is Google’s largest clean-energy project to date.

“This brings our total investment in the clean-energy sector to more than US$680m.”

US firm SolarCity, which is active in 10 states across the US, enables homeowners and businesses to begin using solar energy to power their homes and buildings.

In SolarCity’s innovative financing model, the company covers installation and maintenance of the system over the life of the lease. Homeowners can prepay, or pay nothing up front after which they make monthly solar lease payments.

The ‘distributed’ power future

Needham cited a typical homeowner who will save US$100 per month off energy bills and more than US$16,000 over a 15-year lease.

“We believe the world needs a wide range of clean-energy options in the future, each serving different needs.

“We’ve already invested in several large-scale renewable energy projects, so we’re excited that this new partnership with SolarCity helps people power their homes directly with solar energy, too.

“We think ‘distributed’ renewable energy (generated and used right at home) is a smart way to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to improve our power system since it helps avoid or alleviate distribution constraints on the traditional electricity grid,” Needham said.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years